Most likely, this was a sheer accident. Or – and considering a number of what could only be described as ‘South African adaptations of Soviet designs’ – perhaps it was none….?
Recent work on the project War of Intervention in Angola, Volume 4 (that as for War of Intervention in Angola, Volumes from 1-3 will be published by Helion & Company), prompted me into doing ‘at least the bare minimum’ of research into the ‘missile gap’ the South African Air Force (SAAF) experienced when encountering (Cuban-flown) MiG-23MLs over southern Angola of summer 1987.
Essentially, SAAF’s Mirage F.1CZ- and F.1AZ-pilots found themselves outrun, outturned, and outgunned by MiG-23MLs tooting that little ‘poison dwarf’ called the R-60MK (ASCC/NATO-codename ‘AA-8 Aphid’).
Now, by side of this leading into ‘digging’ about nearly everything from Kukri V.1 up to V.3S Snake… but, eventually I stumbled into the following.
Back in 1986, the Defence Research and Development Council of South Africa launched the research and development of a ramjet-powered missile – apparently with intention of this leading to a medium-range air-to-air missile, or at least a similar surface-to-air missile.
As far as I know, the first related boosters (calibre 127mm) were tested already in 1988, followed by bigger ones (calibre 230mm).
What’s of particular interest is the aerodynamic design: what emerged in period 1988-1992 was a vehicle quite similar to the design of the (ramjet-powered) Soviet-made 3M9 missile from the 2K12 Kub (ASCC/NATO-codename ‘SA-6 Gainful’) surface-to-air system. As far as I know, three vehicles powered by 127mm boosters were tested in 1992, and the first solid-propelled prototype flew in 1994.
One of these should’ve reached a speed of Mach 2.3.
…as far as I know, this missile never received any kind of a designation: apparently, the project was cancelled either already in 1994, or ‘shortly later’…
Interestingly, and ‘roughly around the same time’, the Russians then showed their own, and very similar design – the K-77PD, i.e. a ramjet-powered version of the R-77 medium-range air-to-air missile.
Most likely, this was a sheer accident. Or – and considering a number of what could only be described as ‘South African adaptations of Soviet designs‘ – perhaps it was none….?
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Photo credit: Unknown